“My story is especially interesting because it is about a government authority kidnapped by the LRA.” So begins the story of Mr. Joseph Bikwalubi, the local administrator in the small town of Bangadi in eastern Congo, who recently spoke to Enough field researcher Noel Atama during a chance meeting. Mr. Bikwalubi’s harrowing experience being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a marauding band of fighters terrorizing communities is described in a new field dispatch.
Here’s a glimpse:
The first LRA attack against Bangadi took place on October 18, 2008. Mr. Bikwalubi, as well as the rest of the town’s inhabitants, fled into the bush where he spent nearly two months on the run. He returned to Bangadi around Christmas of 2008, following the Operation Lightning Thunder operations by the Ugandan and Congolese armies. At around noon on Thursday, January 22, 2009, Mr. Bikwalubi was on his way to his fields—like other civil servants in Congo, his wages are small and irregularly paid, so he has to find other ways to make ends meet—when a group of 21 LRA fighters ambushed him. “They sprang from the bush at a bend in the road, encircled me, took away my bicycle and asked me to follow them in the bush. They all were well armed with AK-47 rifles. One of them carried a MAG machine gun, and another even carried a bazooka!”
Two kidnapped Congolese were among the fighters, serving as guides and interpreters. These two Congolese had dreadlocks just like the LRA fighters, and also wore uniforms and carried weapons. Mr. Bikwalubi remembered that “their Commander was short and had a large scar on the right cheek and all its teeth were outside. He might have been wounded by a bullet.”
Click here to read on.